Playing is my new verb, and this category includes my
obsession with makeup. My new toy is Laura Mercier’s Courtisane, a rose-peach
lipstick imbued with fine gold shimmer. It makes my lips look lush, although it
does not taste good with Curly Tops.

did contemplate a career as a courtesan, back in high school. It was right up
there with astronaut, quantum physicist and mad chemist. “A woman prostitute,
especially one whose clients are members of a royal court or men of high
standing.” Last night, chatting with a self-admitted braindead friend, I said,
“My ambition is to be a kept woman and saunter out of Rustan’s at 2 in the
afternoon with shopping bags and nothing much else to do.”

Even the synonyms for courtesan sound
salacious and knowing, a wink in a noun: hetaera, doxy, odalisque,

Phryne, a hetaera in Athens,
offered to rebuild the walls of Thebes as long as the city inscribed the walls
with “Destroyed by Alexander, restored by Phryne the hetaera.” The Thebans said,
um, it’s okay, no thanks. Bill Clinton knew better. He appointed Pamela Harriman
ambassador to France.

When Pamela Harriman died in 1997, the French awarded
her the Legion of Honor. It was a compliment of the highest order, for a woman
whose life was the tender, beautiful, skilled manipulation of